Middle East

Victory of Assad Regime in Ghouta Is Major Defeat for Those Fighting Racism and Capitalist Authoritarianism Globally

Ghouta today

From Alliance of Middle East Socialists:

Those who  oppose both  the Assad regime and the Jihadists and all the imperialist powers,  need to focus on a glaring fact: Support for Assad and Putin has become a rallying cry for Western white supremacist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic organizations and parties.  We need to show that opposing the Assad regime’s war on the Syrian masses is absolutely necessary for fighting the growth of white supremacy in the U.S.  and other Western countries.   Indeed it is necessary for challenging the growth of capitalist authoritarianism around the world. Assad’s Syria could be our future.

Frieda Afary

February 24, 2018

There is no lack of evidence about the barbarity of the Assad regime.  Supported by  Putin’s Russia and the Iranian regime,   it is currently  massacring  400,000 innocent civilians in Eastern Ghouta,  a suburb of Damascus which it has kept under siege since April 2013 and  subjected to chemical warfare as well.   The intensified daily bombing and shelling of Eastern Ghouta which  started in November 2017 and has led to hundreds of deaths of innocent civilians in just the past few days,  is part of the Assad regime’s systematic destruction of the Syrian revolution since 2011.   Ghouta has also suffered from the practices of a reactionary Salafist movement,  Jaysh al-Islam, which has repressed  and killled democratic activists.

While the U.S. and European powers such as France shed crocodile tears over Ghouta,   by now it should be clear that neither the U.S.,  not any of the Western powers ever genuinely  supported the Syrian revolution or wanted the overthrow of the Assad regime.  At most,  they wanted the regime without  the person of Assad because they considered the regime necessary for  imposing “stability” in the region.     Even  in April 2017 when the Trump administration carried out a missile strike against a Syrian government airbase where a chemical attack was launched, its aim was to show the U.S.’s  imperial might.

None of these powers could ever have any genuine concern for the Syrian masses who rose up against an authoritarian and butcher regime.   The capitalist and imperialist foundation of these powers would not allow them to do so.

Need for a New Discourse of Solidarity

Those who oppose both  the Assad regime and the  Jihadists and all  the imperialist powers,  need to focus on a glaring fact:  The authoritarianism that we see in the Assad regime, Putin’s Russia and the Iranian regime is increasingly growing in Western countries as well.   Assadism and Putinism might be the face of the future of the Western liberal democracies.  Indeed,  support for Assad and Putin has become a rallying cry for Western white supremacist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic organizations and parties from the U.S. alt-right to the Italian far-right Forza Nuova,  all of whom are becoming more and more mainstream.

Facing up to this fact,  can also help us find a pathway forward in our solidarity work:  We need to show that opposing the Assad regime’s war on the Syrian masses is absolutely necessary for fighting the growth of white supremacy in the U.S.  and other Western countries.   Indeed it is necessary for challenging the growth of capitalist authoritarianism around the world.    Assad’s Syria could be our future.

The current evidence about the relationship between the Assad regime and the U.S. and European far-right,  reveals that Assadist totalitarianism has become an “inspiration” for various parties representing the more openly authoritarian and racist direction of capitalism. (See this article.)

Fascists marching in Charlotesville, VA.
They also chanted support for Assad.

Thus the need to oppose the Assad regime’s bombing of Eastern Ghouta and Idlib  is not only  a concern for people in the Middle East but should also be a concern for anti-racist activists around the world.   Allowing Assad and his allies to continue their massacres in the name of “fighting terror” will greatly strengthen those who want to repeat that scenario in the U.S. and Europe and elsewhere.   It will have consequences for Black Lives Matter, Latinos, all people of color, Muslims and Jews.

Supporting Kurds Requires Opposing Assad, Erdogan & All Imperialist Powers

Closer to Eastern Ghouta,   the current victory of the Assad regime will have direct and horrible consequences for the Kurds in Afrin and  Rojava.    Since the Summer of 2012,  the Democratic Union Party (PYD),  which leads the autonomous region of Rojava in Northern Syria,  has claimed that while it does not support the Assad regime, it has chosen to not engage in aggression against  it in order to advance its own political project.   The collaboration of the Syrian anti-Assad opposition with Turkey and their support for Turkish president Recep Tayyip  Erdogan have also convinced the PYD that its course vis-a -vis the Assad regime has been correct.

Villagers watch as Turkish army tanks and soldiers gather near the Syrian border on January 21, 2018 at Hassa, in Hatay province.
The PYD has asked the Assad regime to help in ousting these forces.

Since January 20 however,  when the authoritarian government of Erodogan intensified its ongoing war on the Kurds and attacked the Afrin canton with support from Russia, and by using Syrian Arab fighters from the anti-Assad  Free Syrian Army and the Islamic fundamentalist forces,   the PYD leadership has openly asked the Assad regime to come to its aid.  On February 22,  following a meeting between Saban Hamo,  a leader of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Russian and Syrian government officials,  and with the backing of Iran,  Syrian regime militias swept into Afrin.

How could a butcher regime which is currently engaged in decimating the people of Eastern Ghouta and has been responsible,  for the past seven years, for the murder of half a million mostly innocent civilians, be called upon to “save” the Kurdish masses?    This is also a regime with  extreme Arab nationalist and racist policies toward the Kurds, some of whom were not even recognized as  Syrian citizens until 2011.

The Syrian regime might negotiate a deal with the Erdogan government and Russia,  and  gain full and official control of the Rojava region and hence temporarily stop the Turkish ground and aerial attacks on Afrin.  However, the  PYD’s deal with the Assad regime will only exchange one brutal assault with another.  What called itself the autonomous region of Rojava can no longer continue under these conditions.

Two years ago,  when the Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists was formed,  its founding statement of principles stated the following:  “While we insist on upholding a principled position of support for the Kurdish national liberation movement and its struggle for self-determination in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, we think it is also necessary to challenge many of those on the left who separate the struggle for self-determination of the Kurdish people in Syria from the dynamics of the Syrian revolution.  It was the 2011 Syrian revolution that made it possible for the autonomous cantons in Rojava to come into existence.  Without a Syrian revolution there can be no democratic Rojava.  . . .  The liberation and emancipation of the Kurdish people is linked to the liberation and emancipation of the people of the region.”

This statement is more true than ever.   The victory of the Assad regime and its allies in Eastern Ghouta is a major defeat not only for the Syrian Arab revolutionaries but also for the Kurds, all other ethnicities in Syria, and all those fighting racism and capitalist authoritarianism around the world.

Frieda Afary

February 24, 2018

Also see the January 24, 2018 statement of the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists

Solidarity with Afrin, al-Ghouta, Idlib Against All Military Attacks


Ghouta today

Categories: Middle East

6 replies »

  1. I suppose you mean a victory by ISIS and the multiple groups supporting ISIS would be more preferable for the cause of fighting authoritarian capitalism than a victory by the Assad regime. To me your reasoning in displacing U.S. Imperialism as the main enemy in Syria with Assad lends U.S. Imperialism a hand in accomplishing its authoritarian imperialist goals in the Middle-East.

    • It’s not a coincidence that this argument is the exact same one that US imperialism is using! The author of this comment seems unaware that Trump has been actively supporting Assad – and said so in words – for quite some time. And on exactly the basis you say: That the only alternative is the Islamic State. But seeing things in these terms is really an insult to the Syrian masses, whose heroic struggle has rejected both brutal alternatives. As with the strategists for US imperialism called the “Arabists”, the view sees the working class masses as having no independent role in history. They are not actors on the stage. All that matters is the great powers and now, as a secondary issue, Islamic fundamentalism.

      • The defeat of ISIS in Syria was never the goal of U.S. imperialism. An ISIS victory covertly supported by the U.S. , however did become part of its plan to remove Assad when it became clear it was the only option left . They did whatever they could, under the circumstances, to assist ISIS as the only way left to salvage their regime change policy. The recent comments by Trump you refer to were merely a cover for the utter failure of this policy in Syria. So your comments attempting to unite my point of view with that of U.S. imperialism are clearly without basis. And my criticism stands that your position testifies to an abandonment of today’s main task for all in the U.S. who identify themselves as revolutionaries to oppose U.S imperialism wherever it invades. Doing well in this arena would certainly give significant support to working class struggles around the globe.

        When the time comes that Syrian workers are united and organized they will rise up and replace whatever Syrian regime rules with a workers’ state and they will do it without begging for U.S. support or allying themselves with religious terrorists.

  2. This is simply nonsense; a regurgitation of those who are covering up for the crimes against humanity by Assad, Putin & Co. Trump was saying this before he even came into office. Under Obama, the US prohibited the FSA Southern Army from attacking Assad’s troops, and shortly after Trump came into office a commander of the FSA in the North was asked if he was worried that criticizing the US would cause him to lose US support. “No,” he replied, “because we’re hardly getting any support anyway.”

    He claims that Trump made the comments about supporting Assad because of the failure of his (Trump’s) policies. This simple claim shows that Cameron James simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that he simply doesn’t follow the news, because Trump was saying that before he even took office! For Cameron James – as with Trump and his supporters – the facts have to fit into the preconceived notion of things, rather than our conceptions fitting the facts. And if we are confronted with an uncomfortable fact? Why that’s just, just… fake news, that’s what it is!

    Like so many others on the “left”, Cameron James is simply ignoring reality, ignoring the actual facts on the ground. Or, more likely, he is simply unaware of the facts. The overwhelmingly main US military support of the last year has gone to the Kurds to fight… the Islamic State. Does Cameron James denounce the Kurds as agents of US imperialism? Does he call for US withdrawal from Rojava? Did he denounce that US bombing of a mosque in Syria a year ago, the one in which some 50 men, women and children were killed? Or did he – like the rest of the “opponents” of US imperialism – simply ignore that crime? How about US war crimes in Raqqa (and Mosul)? Did he denounce those? If so, he was the exception, because the reality is that these supporters of Assad and Putin and Rouhani aren’t really opponents of US imperialism; they’re supporters of Russian imperialism!

    One last point: The real approach of these people is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” On the basis of the approach of Cameron James & Co, they should have supported Hitler and Mussolini in WW II.

    Meanwhile, the monstrous human suffering – teen agers tortured to death, mass starvation by siege, mass murder by barrel bombs, bombing schools and hospitals, use of sarin gas — we can just ignore it or pretend it’s not happening because it doesn’t fit our narrative. Whatever happened to international solidarity? Whatever happened to “workers of the world, unite”! It went the way of serious thinking, a commodity that is in all too short supply nowadays. That’s why we have Trump, Putin, Assad, Erdogan, Modi, Netanyahu, Aung Su Kyi, Duterte…

  3. Congratulations you’ve earned your “russia baiting credentials” but little else.

    • Please note that Cameron James fails to try to refute any of the arguments based on facts. He’s shown that he doesn’t even follow the most simple news, such as what Trump was saying before he even came into office. And here, he joins with the far, far right, including David Duke and the Traditional Workers Party (both outright fascists and racists), the Italian Northern League, the French National Front, Hungary’s Jobbick and the British National Party in defense of Assad and Putin, both of whom are far right, nationalist and chauvinist political leaders. As with those far right wingers, he denounces any criticism of the role of these reactionaries as “Russia baiting”. Nope. Racists, chauvinists and fascists are racists, chauvinists and fascists, whether they conflict with US capitalism or not.

      James is following the simplistic logic that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. On that basis, he should have supported Hitler and Mussolini in WW II.

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